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Wappingers Central School District Reopening Plan 2021 22 March Revision
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Wappingers Central School District

School Reopening Plan

March 2, 2022

Version History

Public Release:

8/17/2021

NYS DOH Revision

3/2/2022

The mission of the Wappingers Central School District is to empower all of our students with the competencies and confidence to challenge themselves, to pursue their passions, and to realize their potential while growing as responsible members of their community.

Introduction        1

Communication/Family and Community Engagement        2

Health and Safety        2

Mask Usage        2

When Are Masks Required?        3

Masking on Buses & Extracurricular Activities        3

Physical Distancing:        4

Ventilation:        4

Personal Hygiene:        5

Visitor and Vendor Practices:        6

Visitors        6

Vendors        6

Health Offices        7

When Feeling Ill at School:        7

Other Protocols:        7

Contact Tracing        8

Testing        8

Weekly Staff Testing        9

Use of Over-the-Counter Tests        10

School Exclusion        10

Introduction 

The overall goal of the Wappingers School District for the 2021-2022 school year is to maximize in-person teaching and learning, be responsive to student needs, and keep students and staff healthy and safe. Our schools will be operating a normal school schedule for all students grades Pre K-12. In person learning is critical to the academic, social and emotional well being of our students.

This plan aligns with the guidance developed in collaboration with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) & the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). It is important to note that this plan is subject to change during the year as the District will continue to assess relative information shared with us by our state and local leaders / health organizations.

Communication/Family and Community Engagement

The District remains committed to communicating all elements of this reopening plan to students, parents and guardians, staff, and visitors. The plan is available to all stakeholders via the District website at  https://www.wappingersschools.org/ and will be updated throughout the school year, as necessary, to respond to local circumstances.

As part of its planning for the continued operations of schools, the District has developed a plan for communicating all necessary information to staff, students, parents/guardians, visitors and education partners, and vendors. The District will use its Blackboard Connect Communications Platform, and the District website (www.wappingersschools.org) to disseminate relevant information to our Community.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of our students, our staff and their families are our top priority. We want students and employees to feel comfortable and safe returning to school campuses. The District continues to work with the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health to monitor and assess relevant local data within our region.  The websites for each organization whose guidance was reviewed in the development of this plan are as follows: Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health (DCDBCH), the New York State Education Department (NYSED), and the New York State Department of Health.

Mask Usage

Mandated Masking in the School setting ended on March 2, 2022 as per NYS.  This updated guidance aligns with the new CDC Community Burden Framework which guides state and local jurisdictions on COVID-19 mitigation measures based on level of community burden:

When Are Masks Required?

Students, staff and teachers must wear masks on return to school during Days 6 – 10 of their isolation period (if they were a positive case). In addition, NYSDOH recommends students, staff and teachers wear masks when:

When wearing a mask; masks should be well-fitted and appropriately worn (to cover nose and mouth) and should conform to CDC guidelines for masks and respirators.

Masking on Buses & Extracurricular Activities

Masking is no longer required on district vehicles or during extracurricular activities. Individuals who are required to wear masks in school per the information above must still wear masks on district vehicles and when participating in extracurricular activities.

Masked and unmasked people will be working and learning alongside each other in schools. Therefore, we will establish “mask positive” environments so those who wear masks, whether by choice, expectation, or requirement, are not stigmatized, bullied, or made to feel uncomfortable, and likewise, those for whom masks have not been required or recommended are not stigmatized, bullied, or made to feel uncomfortable.

Pursuant to the Dignity For All Students Act, students have the right to a school environment free from harassment and bullying. Whenever persons are expected or required to wear masks, masks may be removed when eating, drinking, singing, going outside, or playing a wind instrument. When masks are removed for these purposes, physical distancing of 6 or more feet should be maintained to the extent possible.

Physical Distancing:

NYS (and therefore the District) aligns with the CDC definition of close contact in schools. In the school setting, with universal masking, a close contact was generally defined as less than 3 feet from an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. The exception of allowing 3-feet of distance to determine exposure in schools does not apply to unmasked individuals, nor does it apply to teachers, staff, or other adults regardless of masking. This means that in settings where masks are not worn, anyone within a 6-foot radius of an infected person should be considered exposed, if said other has tested COVID positive. This “zone of exposure” does not mean schools should rearrange the physical footprint or space students six feet apart. 

Ventilation:

Wappingers CSD will ensure sufficient ventilation and fresh air to all spaces of occupancy by means of:

In addition, the District will:

Personal Hygiene:

Hand washing - Students and staff must practice good hand hygiene to help reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria. Schools should plan time in the school day schedule to allow for hand hygiene.

Visitor and Vendor Practices:

Parents/guardians will report to the security desk and not go beyond unless they are permitted to do so. Essential visitors to facilities and parent/guardian visitors will have restricted access to our school buildings.  In addition:

       

Visitors 

Vendors

Health Offices

When Feeling Ill at School:

Students and staff with symptoms of illness must be sent to the health office. A school nurse (Registered Professional Nurse, RN) is available to assess individuals as chronic conditions such as asthma and allergies or chronic gastrointestinal conditions may present the same symptoms as COVID-19 but are neither contagious nor pose a public health threat. Proper PPE will be required anytime a nurse may be in contact with a potential COVID-19 patient.

Other Protocols:

Contact Tracing 

To protect themselves and others and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the household and community, the district shall notify through either group or individual level communications whenever an individual:

Testing

New York State has provided schools with over 20 million tests to support this strategy. Whenever someone in school – student, staff or teacher – is determined to have been exposed or potentially exposed, it is recommended that the individual should be tested for COVID-19 as follows:  

Exception:

Exposed school staff and students and/or their parents/guardians are primarily responsible for ensuring that recommended testing occurs. The District will supply testing kits to affected families for testing at home and/or provide access to existing testing programs at our District Office (Or until such time that the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health can no longer support this program).  

In the setting of COVID-19 outbreaks with ongoing transmission, the District will take a more active role to ensure that the recommended testing occurs. The District will remain current in our reporting of all COVID-19 test results that we conduct or that we become aware of, including results of home testing, to the New York State COVID-19 Report Card. Exposed individuals, regardless of vaccination status, may remain in school by appropriately wearing a well-fitting mask and undergoing recommended testing and may participate in school-based extracurricular activities. These individuals also may continue to ride the school bus (See masking rules above). 

Weekly Staff Testing

Weekly testing of staff who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 will continue except for the following Exemptions:

Use of Over-the-Counter Tests

There are numerous COVID-19 antigen tests that have received United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), including over-the-counter (OTC) tests authorized for home or self-testing. The NYS DOH allows the use of such OTC tests for school purposes unless it is otherwise determined by our Local Health Department (LHD).  If OTC tests are used, all test takers must follow the instructions found on the package inserts for serial testing (if applicable). Many brands of OTC tests include two tests, both of which should be used as instructed by the manufacturer for asymptomatic individuals.

School Exclusion

When the District becomes aware of failure to comply with recommended testing, then individuals who are not up to date on COVID-19 vaccination should stay home for 5 days after exposure. Individuals who are up to date on COVID-19 vaccination should be encouraged to complete the recommended testing but are not required to be excluded from school as long as they wear a mask as recommended. Some individuals may be medically unable to wear a mask. The District will decide on a case-by-case basis whether these individuals should be excluded from school or allowed to remain in school if exposed or potentially exposed. Examples of factors to consider include:

Please find updated school mask guidance and an FAQ document regarding the public health changes that took effectWednesday, March 2, 2022, at: